Florida baseball: 3 things learned from losing 2 of 3 to Texas A&M

Kevin Brockway
The Gainesville Sun
Florida's utility Jac Caglianone (14) with his 22nd homerun on the season against Florida A&M. Florida beat FAMU17-7 in 7 innings of play, Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Condron Family Baseball Park in Gainesville, Florida.[Cyndi Chambers/ Gainesville Sun] 2023

Florida baseball remains in contention for an SEC title, but time is running out.

The No. 7 Gators (37-12, 15-9 SEC) are coming off a weekend in which they lost two of three at Texas A&M, including a 3-2 loss Sunday in which the winning run for the Aggies scored on a balk by closer Brandon Neely in the bottom of the ninth inning. Florida won 6-5 on Friday and lost 15-2 in seven innings on Saturday.

Florida finds itself two games behind Vanderbilt (17-7 SEC) and Arkansas (17-7) for the best record in the conference with six games remaining.

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Bullpen comes through:No. 4 Florida Gators finally get help from the bullpen in 7-5 victory over Florida State

"The margin for error to win in this league is very small," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We did some things that when you look back, they just kind of hurt us. That's the bottom line. We'll get back at this thing next weekend against Vanderbilt and hopefully get back on a winning track."

Here's three things that were learned from the Texas A&M series:

Jac Caglianone is Florida's new home run king

Caglianone belted a solo homer on Saturday - his 27th - to pass Matt LaPorta and Wyatt Langford for UF's record for home runs in a season. The homer, though, came in the 15-2 loss.

"It is disappointing that it came in a game like today because it kind of gets overshadowed by the outcome of the game," O'Sullivan said. "Jac's had a great year for us and to break that record is a tremendous accomplishment for him. We are very happy for him."

Florida pitchers still struggling with control

Florida pitchers combined to walk 17 batters over the three-game series. On Saturday, Florida starter Hurston Waldrep (6-3) walked six and allowed four runs over three innings, taking the loss. Four more Florida bullpen pitchers surrendered four walks over the next three innings.

On Sunday, Caglianone walked three over 3.1 innings in his start, including a bases-loaded walk that drove in Texas A&M's first run. Neely hit a batter to lead off the ninth, which turned out to be the winning run.

"It's frustrating," O'Sullivan said. "It's not just the walks, it's the over and over 2-1 counts and 3-1 counts, getting into hitters' counts. Yeah, it's disappointing."

Florida's lineup susceptible to being shut down by lefties

The Gators scored three runs over the final two games. Lefty starter Troy Wansing held UF scoreless in 3.2 innings with 5 strikeouts on Saturday. Lefties Will Johnston, Evan Aschenbeck and Brandyn Garcia combined to allow 2 runs over 9 innings with 11 strikeouts on Sunday.

"We just ran into a pitching staff. They certainly didn't pitch like their (season) numbers this weekend," O'Sullivan said. "They were pretty good. Tough matchup. We saw a ton of lefties and it kind of minimized Jac a little bit this weekend and BT (Riopelle), other than Friday night. The bottom line is we just gotta get back to work."

Up next

The Gators will begin a crucial three-game series Friday against No. 5 Vanderbilt (5:30 p.m., SEC Network).